Best Thing I’ve Done in Awhile

Two nights ago the staff of The Berkeley Beacon had a celebratory party at the house some of the editors share in Allston, a half-hour T ride from campus. Unfortunately I was being silly and decided to leave later than everyone else (not intentionally, mind you, but case-in-point is that I was alone). So I get on the T around 10:30 – on a Thursday night, it wasn’t that crowded – and take a seat next to a window. I’m sitting there listening to some song or other and it hits me: why wasn’t I writing just then? I always have some kind of notebook with me, looking for random places to write but I never seem to actually do it.

But that night I actually did it.

I took out the notebook and a pen and just wrote three poems. Just did it. Done. Well, kind of. The first two (one about jostling through a crowd to a loved one and one about how to act if there was an emergency on the subway) were complete crap. But the third, a little thing about finding the correct metaphor, might have potential. Maybe.

I’ve sinced realized that I’m still struggling from the biggest beginner-writer problem there is: the notion that everything you put to paper has to be brilliant. That’s not saying I haven’t written crap just to do it (because I most certainly have), but I get hung up because most of the things I’ve gotten published were written in one sitting (like “Ode to the Tiles on My Bathroom Floor,” which will be at Every Day Poets on the 15th). Somehow I’ve got to get over that. I’ve got to learn that I can always go back and edit the crap, to at least try to make it acceptable.

And maybe one way to do that is to do this blog thing more. Thanks to Josh Kleinberg, my very new cyber-writer-buddy, for the kick in the pants. I need more people to remind me to do this. DO IT. Or I’ll write a poem about how much you suck.

Good plan?

Good plan.


One thought on “Best Thing I’ve Done in Awhile

  1. I chastise myself for not writing in every instant of downtime too. I’ve got this constant idea that “things are about to ease up,” then I’ll be able to write more. This is the exact reason I’ve never ended up quitting smoking. That said, I’m probably not going to put pen to paper recreationally again until the semester’s over.

    Whiskey Island (my school’s lit journal) had an old interview with David Foster Wallace where he talks about how (paraphrase) “a writer needs to accept that 90% of everything he writes is going to be shit, and just try not to let anyone see the shit.” Unfortunately, I think I’m guilty of basically “deciding,” after a line or two, how a poem will turn out and saying “eh…I’ll just write a shitty poem…to get my lifetime word count up, I guess.” I don’t know if there’s a lesson there. Maybe, “don’t give up on pieces so easily…?”


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